Sierra Club Files Petition to Stop Expanded Coal Use
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Most of the electricity used in Maryland is created from coal and sent through transmission lines. Coal is, of course, not renewable. Further, using coal to generate electricity creates emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Most of the electricity used in Maryland is created from coal and sent through transmission lines. Coal is, of course, not renewable. Further, using coal to generate electricity creates emissions of carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse gas.”
Transmission lines “transmit high-voltage electricity from the generation source or substation to another substation or electric distribution system.” (www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/electric_power/glossary.html#t) Prior to 2005, every state had full authority to deny, approve, or place conditions on permits for transmission line projects within its borders.
August 8, 2005
President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act. §1221 of the Act empowered the Department of Energy to designate regions as National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors. States would have only limited control over requests to construct transmission lines in these corridors. If a state denied a transmission lines permit, placed certain conditions on a permit, or did not act on a permit within one year for any reason, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) could override the state’s authority and issue a transmission lines permit.
April 20, 2007
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first mandatory, market-based program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI’s goal for its ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states signatories was to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from the power sector 10% by 2018. But one RGGI problem was “leakage,” where electricity generation shifted from power plants within a RGGI state to power plants in states, such as West Virginia, without caps or reduction efforts against carbon dioxide emissions.
June 22, 2007
PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization coordinating the movement of wholesale electricity in 13 states (including Maryland) east of the Mississippi River, and in the District of Columbia,, It approved the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH). The PATH was proposed as a 275-mile, 765 kV project that would start from western West Virginia at the Amos coal-fired power plant and deliver power to a newly proposed substation in Kemptown, MD.
October 2, 2007
The Department of Energy designated the Mid-Atlantic area a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.
October 17, 2007
PJM Interconnection, the grid operator, approved the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP). MAPP was proposed as a 230-mile, high-voltage project that would start at Dominion Virginia Power’s coal-powered Possum Point substation, cross the Potomac River to the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant, go under Chesapeake Bay, cross through Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and, finally, go up the Delmarva Peninsula.
November 5, 2007
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler filed a petition, in the name of Governor O’Malley, requesting that the Department of Energy grant a rehearing of its order designating the Mid-Atlantic region as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor. O’Malley expressed concern about the large size of the corridor, as well as the fact that there was no consideration of non-transmission solutions for problems occurring when the existing transmission lines become “congested” (overloaded).
February 28, 2008
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted four rate incentives for the PATH project, including a guaranteed 14.3% rate of return on its investment and a guaranteed reimbursement for all of the project’s start-up costs.
April 24, 2008
Governor O’Malley signed into law “EmPOWER Maryland,” an initiative for Maryland to reduce energy consumption by 15% by 2015, thus reducing Maryland’s forecasted electricity demand.
February 18, 2009
The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Piedmont Environmental Council v. FERC, ruled in favor of the Piedmont Environmental Council. Under this decision, states regained the right to reject transmission line projects without fear that the federal government would overrule their rejections.
February 25, 2009
Pepco Holdings Inc., an energy holding company engaged in operating utilities and selling electricity and other “energy products” to residential and commercial customers, filed a motion with the Maryland Public Service Commission, case #9179, alleging a need to construct the MAPP project, and to have the commission rule on this and other matters.
March 19, 2009
President Barack Obama appointed a new chairman of FERC: Jon Wellinghoff, a supporter of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The previous chairman, Joseph T. Kelliher, appointed by Bush, had stepped down earlier in March.
May 19, 2009
Allegheny Energy, Inc. and American Electric Power, Inc. filed a plan for the huge PATH transmission project with the Maryland Public Service Commission, case #9198.
June 7, 2009
Governor O’Malley signed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 (GGERA) into law. GGERA requires the state to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 25% from 2006 levels by 2020 and to adopt a final plan to achieve this goal by 2012.
According to a new FERC study, Maryland could, by 2019, reduce its energy consumption at peak demand by one-third; further, if electricity were better managed within Maryland, the peak demand (on the hottest days) could reach below 2009 levels by 2019. www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/06-09-demand-response.pdf
July 10, 2009
The national Sierra Club intervened in the May 19, 2009 Allegheny Energy, Inc. and American Electric Power, Inc. case before the Maryland Public Service Commission. #9198, petitioning to stop the PATH plan for transmission line construction. The Sierra Club alleged that this PATH plan would increase Maryland’s reliance on coal-fired power and would impede Maryland’s renewable energy development. n
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